Our Family Feeding Epiphany

Many years ago, I created this blog to share the feeding trials of my infant daughter. She was so small in stature and it was a constant fight with pediatricians who thought she should weigh more, when I knew that she was perfectly healthy as she was. As time has passed (almost seven years!), her size remains consistent she is happy and is in great health.

What became an even greater struggle as a parent and dietitian was my son’s picky eating. In reality, he always was very strong willed regarding his food choices and we have worked very, very diligently throughout his ten years of life, since he started solids expanding his diet beyond grains, dairy and fruits. Over the course of his toddler years he began to enjoy animal proteins and the preschool years included the expansion of his consumption (note, not enjoyment) of various vegetables. All of this took much work, pressure and persistence on my husband and I to help get him to this point. So possibly we should be proud (?), in part we were. As he grew older and mealtime battles still continued too regularly for our tastes my patience began to wear thin.

Why did he refuse foods he previously enjoyed? Why could he only eat them a certain way? Why did he need them all separated? Why was this still a challenge??!!

The short answer is… we were wrong.

A fellow registered dietitian, a feeding guru one might say, from a far away land called Wisconsin showed me the light. The concepts of Ellyn Satter and her feeding Institute had been introduced to me over the years, at various conferences as great resources for child feeding. Her website https://www.ellynsatterinstitute.org was the perfect starting ground for any person, parent or professional, who had questions and concerns about the feeding of children. So I began to immerse my self in her teachings, ordering every book, every guide, and let me tell you, it has been enlightening and life changing. Her most basic principle of feeding dynamics, the Satter Division of Responsibility in feeding is broken down to two basic rules. I (the parent) was responsible for when/where/what food to serve and AJ (the child) was responsible for choosing whether and how much to eat.

 

Starting with that point, our family embarked on a new dining journey, one with less rules, less emotion and gradually less stress. It was, is and probably will continue to be a challenge for myself to not micromanage my children’s’ meals. The first couple of days were kind of rough (one meal he only ate a plateful of peas!!). Sometimes I can’t help myself and stray from the rules a little to comment how our bodies need multiple food groups, not just protein and grains. But we are growing in this together, and within a couple of weeks, it was obvious that this was a very good path for our family.

DSC_0410The former battleground…

Regrouping

Much has changed since the last time I posted on here.  We have all grown in numbers, size (and maybe a couple of pounds).  The babe has begun her official academic career in kindergarten, her brother continues on to third grade, a German shepherd puppy has joined the family and while we continue to reside in NOVA, we have reentered the world of home ownership.  Everyone is happy, healthy and excited about the prospect of new adventures.

Myself, I am attempting to navigate this new world of an empty nest as a stay-at-home mom. It is bittersweet as it means the kids are growing up (too fast) but it allows much more time to devote to this business of nutrition.  I can focus more on all the fun and interesting aspects that involve food, eating, behavior and the science behind it.

Good stuff is coming folks, please stay tuned…..

 

Rosemary Garlic Oven Fries

After our trip to Great Country Farms earlier this month it has been potatoes, potatoes, potatoes on the menu.  One of the favorites for the Babe and AJ has been these oven “fries”.  This family is all about the oven fries.  They think they are getting away with eating junk for dinner.  I’ll admit, most of the time I cheat and buy the frozen version (LOVE the Alexia products).  But these fries are super easy to make and they are delicious.

Some potato fun facts:

Did you know that Americans get most of their vitamin C from potatoes?  Surprised?  Well we are a french fry nation.  One potato (5.3oz) has 45% of your daily value for vitamin C.

Potatoes are an excellent source of Potassium (620 mg in a 5.3 oz serving) to be exact.

They are fat-free.

Raw potatoes have the potential to last for months in storage.  Extend their life by storing them in a cool, dry place and do not wash them until you are ready to use them.

DSC_0085

Rosemary Garlic Oven Fries

Serves: 4  (2 Adults, 2 Kids)

4 to 10 potatoes**

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Tbsp Fresh Rosemary, Chopped

3 Lg Garlic Cloves, Minced

1 Tsp Ground Black Pepper

1/2 Tsp Salt

Preheat Oven to 400 degrees.

Slice potatoes (into the fry shape) then toss with the olive oil, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper.  Spread into a single layer onto a cookie sheet and bake for about 30 minutes (longer if you like them really crispy, less if you prefer them very soft).

Share and enjoy!

    DSC_0099

**We are getting towards the end of our potato stash so I had to use these smaller ones.  Normally 4-5 large yukons or russets would have done the job.

***On a side note:  I was in no way compensated by Alexia Foods for this post.  Also, be patient with my food photography.  I just received a new camera for my birthday and am so excited to use it for the blog.

Digging for Gold

IMG_0137

There are so many food “rules” floating around out there that I try not to aggressively restrict the family in obeying many of them.  Instead, I like to make goals, better eating habits that are not necessarily limiting, but expanding on all of the healthful choices that are available.  One major goal that our family has is to consume as many locally or regionally sourced foods as our budget allows.  We are BIG fans of the farmers market.   Virginia has been very kind to us in this arena.  There are so many markets, bakeries and dairies to choose from and utilize.  I am in local food heaven.  This is a far cry from our home state of Florida in regards to variety and availability of truly local foods.  This past week we decided to pay a visit to one of the local farms for some down and dirty potato picking.  Great Country Farms in Bluemont, VA was hosting their annual Big Dig festival.  The kids had a blast foraging for Yukon Golds and (what appeared to be) Idaho Reds.  Tim was even able to pick some green beans in the neighboring field.  The picking part was short-lived though, we had to pace ourselves otherwise we would have ended up with 50 pounds of potatoes for our little family of four.  At the end of the day we had a great adventure, playing on the farm, visiting the animals and bringing home about 15 pounds of potatoes for our future dining pleasure.

IMG_0102 IMG_0107

The kids on the hunt.  AJ was so excited, he brought his own shovel.

IMG_0112 IMG_0115

Returning from the fields, hot, happy and covered in dirt.

Lunch Box Fun

The school year is upon us, today is AJ’s first day of school.  This year is a big one for us, the Babe is beginning to go to preschool and AJ is starting kindergarten.  Like every other parent who has gone through this and will go through it in the future, life is just happening too fast.  The kids are so excited to start at their respective schools, meet new friends and teachers, play and learn all day long.  But you know what I am most excited about, school lunch.  Yep, I have thoroughly enjoyed shopping for all of the fun food to pack in the kids lunches, letting AJ pick out what he would like to eat and planning on what to fill their little bellies so that they will be at their very best for the school day.  Hopefully the task will still be as appealing a couple of months into the school year, because we are at the beginning of this game.   It is a fun challenge to figure out that fine balance between what they will definitely eat and  what is yummy and good for them.  The plan is to utilize some prepackaged “kid” food along with fresher foods and beverages, cover most if not all of the food groups and make sure they are getting enough protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.  So today when I let AJ choose what he wanted in his very first kindergarten lunch, he more than eagerly started rattling off a list of his favorites to but in his brand new shiny lunch box (there is NO question whose child he is).   He selected whole wheat crackers, natural peanut butter to dip them in, two Baby Bell mozzarella cheese rounds, two clementines, water and a juice box.  There is just something so appealing to kids about miniature foods that seem to be just their size.  We talked about washing our hands before we eat, his ability to open any of the packages on his own (and in retrospect, we should of discussed not sharing- in case of allergies).  All in all, I think he is more than prepared for a successful first big kid lunch in a real school cafeteria.

Let’s just hope he eats it.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

National Breastfeeding Week was August 1-7 which was the inspiration for this post.  So I thought I’d show a little support to all the breastfeeding mammas out there (better a little late than never).  Having breastfed both AJ and the Babe, I understand firsthand all the joys and challenges that come along with this method of feeding our babies.   Wether or not you choose to breastfeed your child is a very personal decision and I am not in the business of judging those who do not.  It is not easy and all sunshine and roses for everyone, but there is no question that it has many, many benefits.   As a strong supporter of breastfeeding,  this post is nothing but positive and will share what I think are the top 5 (of a long list) of benefits.

1.  Breastfeeding helps boost the baby’s immune system.

Breast milk contains antibodies and the protein lactoferrin which broadly kills bacteria, viruses and fungi and has anti-inflammatory properties.

2.  Breastfeeding can help prevent overweight and obesity in children.

Studies have found greater occurrences of overweight and obesity at different stages of childhood/adolescence than babies that were breastfed at least 6 months.

3.  Helps the mama lose weight too.

Breastfeeding can burn up to 500 calories a day!!!!

4.  Its green.

There is no packaging, no waste, no fuel or energy used in processing.

5.  Its free.

A breastfed baby can save a family $60-$100 a month in formula costs.

 

There are many great resources out there for breastfeeding families.  La Leche League International ( llli.org ) is a fantastic one and so is kellymom.com.

Keeping Your Kool

In every relationship there are disagreements on how to manage your household.  As the person who does the shopping, prepares the meals, and oh gee, has the most knowledge of food in the house, I like to have control of the kitchen and what foods enter our home.  But there is one item I cannot shake.  The tropical punch Kool-Aid.  My husband has this deep-seeded need to have the occasional glass of the red-dyed, sugar-filled beverage.  I was cool with the idea when AJ was little, but now both of the kids want to join in on the artificial fun.  The list of forbidden foods for our home is pretty short and artificial food coloring tops it.  We have even weeded it out of medicines, vitamins and toothpaste.  There is definitely a difference in AJ’s behavior when he eats foods that contain the dye.  When we are visiting friends and family, I am not so strict and allow them to partake in what their peers do, but I have done very good job of keeping it out of our home.  Except for that Kool-Aid.

So the dilemma is the different viewpoints of my husband and I.  He perceives it in a manner similar to the beer and wine we have in the house.  That it is off limits to the kids.  While I think that since they are growing older, we need to set a good example and not drink it ourselves.  The problem with his viewpoint is that it is not really off-limits because whenever he has a glass and they are around, they seem to always partake in the sweet-red potion.  To be fair, my methodology prevents the kids from participating in a lesson in moderation and self-control.   So who is right?  Clearly at this present time, it is not a disagreement that I am winning.  I am not giving up though, the debate will continue every time the container of the fake juice runs out.